According to Salary.com, the average copywriter salary is $44,000 a year with the highest paid copywriters bringing in six figures annually. You can imagine, that a lot of training and specific skills go into writing copy that sales and that is why the best copywriters can demand such pay.
However, there are some things you can easily integrate into your own site that are similar to what these high-paid, professional copywriters do. While it won’t be at the same level, you’re still certain to reap the rewards from those who have gone before you and paved the way with smart marketing tactics in written form.
Rule #1: The Headline Is Nearly Everything
Today’s average website browser is busy. He or she works, parents, belongs to clubs, puts in time at home on work, cleans house, watches favorite shows. You’re competing against a lot of distractions for this reader’s attention. You must get your reader’s attention with the headline to even encourage a visit to your website in the first place.
As web designer Brian Casel wrote in his article “5 Startup Copywriting Tips to Entice Customers“:
“The minute a first-time visitor hits your startup’s homepage, it’s a make-or-break moment. She’s immediately wary her time might be wasted, so she’s got her cursor poised over the back button, waiting for an excuse to bounce off your site.
It’s up to your site, and particularly the top headline and sub-headline, to avoid this from happening. Your headline must grab her attention; your sub-headline must keep her attention.”
So, how do you accomplish that? Your headline should be a call to action or a promise. For example:
- Top 10 Ways to…
- How Not to Go Crazy While…
- You Can’t Afford Not to…
Jerry Low offers some additional examples of top-notch headlines in his article “Write Headlines Like Brian Clark, Neil Patel, and Jon Morrow: 35 Headline Samples From The A-List Bloggers”.
Rule #2: Entice the Reader
The very first thing you have to figure out to do is how to get your reader to actually read your copy. After all, even the most beautifully written copy that is meant to sell every item on your site won’t have any impact if the reader never looks at it. Whether you are sending an email to your readers or posting copy on your website, your number one goal must be to entice the reader to read your message.
You must hook the reader into wanting to read more with that very first line. Think about the last book you read that really grabbed your attention. How did it start? Did you immediately want to read more? That is called “the hook”. Here are some examples from books and articles:
- Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice. (Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude)
- It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. (George Orwell, 1984)
- If you could utilize the ten websites with the most traffic on the Internet, how would that benefit your business? (from my WHSR article “Top 10 Most Visited Websites and How You Can Benefit from Them”)
- In an ideal world, we would never have to worry about switching Web hosts – our site would remain happily housed at the current hosting provider’s facility with great load times, low costs, and 100 percent uptime. (Jerry Low, in the article “How to Switch From one Web Host to Another (Step-by-step Guide)”)
- Do scientific papers ever seem like unreadable gibberish to you? Well, sometimes they really are. (Maxim Lott, “Over 100 Published Science Journal Articles Just Gibberish”)
- Are you in the market for a hard-to-find, vintage car? (Jeffrey Jablansky, “Field of Thousands of Classic Car Dreams for Sale“)
So… how can you hook the read from that very first line of copy? Ask a question, use a quote, state a particularly interesting fact, or go for shock value.
Rule #3: Stick to Copywriting Structure
There is a basic pattern to copywriting that you can stick to and see better results than if you just throw some text out there and hope for results.
As HubSpot lead editor Corey Eridon states in her article about “10 Companies That Totally Nail Copywriting“:
“GymIt has figured out how to craft evocative and powerful taglines that are short and snappy. If you’ve never tried to do that, holy cow, is it difficult! These taglines explain the gym’s value proposition, totally resonate with their target demographic, and require no further explanation. As a relatively new gym, they tell a great story of who they are with the three taglines currently rotating on their website.”
Check out GymIt’s site to see what Eridon is talking about. They keep it short and simple and stick to the basic “SLAP” structure encouraged by many copywriters as good structure for copy. You want your reader to:
- Stop – grab her attention
- Look and/or Listen – make the copy interesting, use the hook
- Act – call for an action, put a time limit on the offer, feature benefits and give a guarantee (more on these in a moment)
- Purchase – this is the ultimate goal, so make it easy for your reader to purchase the product/service
Rule #4: Sell the Benefits
You know your product better than anyone else out there, so selling the benefits of what you have to offer should be fairly simple. Answer these questions to get started:
- How is your product different than competitor products?
- Why will the reader’s life be better/easier with this product/service?
- What results can the reader expect from this product?
Using certain catch phrases works well in this section of your copy. Copywriter Jeff Palmer offers some power phrases that you can use in your copywriting, such as:
Paint a picture with your words and invite the reader into your world.
“The answer is yes…”
So, what is the question and why does it matter? This is a simple formula for creating compelling copy, give the answer and then state the question.
He offers some other power phrases you can use. The idea is to create a mental picture for the reader, encourage her to dream about how things will work better or be different with the item you have to sell and answer any question she might have about your product.
This section is also a good place to use a couple of short testimonials from satisfied customers.
Rule #5: Guarantee Results
San Diego Marketing Examiner Julien Brandt recommends reducing resistance with a guarantee:
“Some people don’t want to part with their cash or risk spam. A great way to lower this resistance is to change the way you write call-to-action buttons. Instead of the word ‘Submit’, use ‘Sign Up for Free’, or add a small sentence under the ‘Buy Now’ button that says ’30-day money back guarantee’. This will give the customer the feeling that there is minimal risk and that his/her decision to buy your product is a smart one.”
Yes, you are taking a risk with a money-back guarantee that they may want their money back, especially if you offer a digital product or a service. However, most customers truly will be satisfied if you offer a quality product and you’ll rarely run into this issue. I’ve offered money-back guarantees in the past to web design clients and only once in more than a decade have I had someone who refused to be satisfied with the end result. I refunded her money and we parted ways. Amazingly, she referred me to several people later one, which I could never figure out as I didn’t feel she was happy with my services, but perhaps the mere fact that I stood behind my guarantee made her feel comfortable recommending me to others.
You’ve probably heard the acronym for Keep It Simple, Sweetie (K.I.S.S.). When it comes to copywriting, this can be an effective tool. You want to provide information but not so overwhelm your reader that she doesn’t even remember what you just said. Keep it is as simple as possible and don’t write in legal or technical jargon that your reader might not understand. If you feel something needs further explanation, consider creating a separate F.A.Q. page.
Keep it simple and stick to the five tips above and you’ll be writing copy that sells for your own blog.